KOZHIKODE:The drowning of three tourists from Karnataka on the Kappad beach last week seems to have had no effect on the state tourism department, which has been turning a blind eye for long to the security of tourists visiting the beach.
Three tourists from Mysore had drowned here last Friday evening. They were reportedly on a vacation with 17 other people.
Being a pretty large shore, with no lifeguards and adequate life-saving equipment, the tourism department has ignored the safety and security of the people, apart from the groynes (pulimuttu) which are used to reduce the impact of the waves hitting the beach.
Considering the historical relevance of the the beach that is associated with Vasco da Gama, it is no doubt that tourists within India and from abroad come here almost on a daily basis.
The local police come for intermittent patrols now after the incident. Often the beach security guards have to seek the assistance of the police to handle the tourists reluctant to come out of the beach when it is dangerous or who take bath at dangerous spots.
“We come here when the security personnel call us for help and we come as part of out routine patrolling. People try to swim in the sea. The absence of lifeguards has put the life of tourists at risk. There is a limit to which police can do without having any life-saving equipment,” says a civil police officer who is on duty on the beach.
Police procured a lifebuoy last year, after it made a request to the marine enforcement department for it.
Adding to the fiasco, the tourism department has not installed any sign boards to warn swimmers about the dangerous spots.
Meanwhile, the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) has employed two lifeguards at the small cliff adjacent to the beach. However, the guards testify they do not have any life-saving equipment other than a lifebuoy.
All that the beach holds of security and safety measures are groynes (pulimuttu) to reduce the impact of the waves hitting the beach. However, even these groynes are an attraction, as tourists love to click photographs here.
“We are not equipped with any life-saving equipment. We don’t even get our salaries. It has been eight months since we got our salaries. The DTPC says that it does not have sufficient funds to disburse our salaries,” says Biju, a lifeguard employed by the DTPC.
Last year, a person had fallen off the cliff. However, he was saved due to the timely intervention of two lifeguards appointed by the DTPC. “When we admitted him to hospital, it did not seem like he would survive. Water had entered his lungs; fortunately, he recuperated in a month,” adds Biju.
These lifeguards were appointed in October 2005 on daily wages. “Usually, lifeguards employed at other places need to work for only 15 days a month. They take turns and, in that way, lifeguards will always be there on the beaches through the month. But here, we are forced to work on all days, he adds.
These are not the end of the problems. Given a large shore, the beach is dark after evenings as there is no light and neither is there a proper shelter for protection from the rain and the scorching sun. Also, the absence of restrooms for women is a major complaint from tourists.
The DTPC puts the onus on the state tourism department for the shortcomings. “We admit there are not enough lifeguards on the Kappad beach. It is the duty of the tourism department to appoint them. Our joint director has requested the department to appoint them at the earliest. Besides, the Kozhikode district collector has also pushed for the same,” says Rajeev, secretary of DTPC, Kozhikode.
He adds that both the lifeguards have been brought under the tourism department and the salary arrears will be issued as soon as a government order is issued for the same.